Darrington has been a pig farming village for as long as anyone can remember - certainly since before any present residents were born. In 1900 there were 11 farms in the village, almost all of them farming pigs, though this has drastically reduced over the years. However, we still regularly receive questions and complaints from villagers (particularly during the summer months), about the resulting odours.
We have communicated and worked with Church Farm many times over the years and have always found them to be not only within Environment Agency rules, but also often going way beyond to ensure the impact of their farming is felt as little as possible by villagers, installing the best equipment as well as checking wind directions and choosing the least impacting 'odour releasing' times whenever possible. However the farm has to run and sometimes the wind changes direction, but rest assured the farm is doing and always will continue to do everything it can to keep smells as minimal as possible. They have also done some great services to the village over many, many years, providing manpower, equipment and time literally every time we've asked.
We asked Pete Batty (Director) to provide us with a little information about the farm so villagers can understand better what goes on up there and why:
R Wilson & Son have been farming in Darrington since the early 1930’s when my grandfather Reuben Wilson moved here to take on Church farm. The farm yard was situated in the village behind Church Farm cottage and the village shop with the yard entrance off Estcourt road and the top of the farmyard being accessible off Philips Lane next to the old school opposite the Tythe barn.
The traditional farmyard and buildings stretched from Estcourt road right up to what is now the park and children’s play equipment. Back then there were cows, poultry and pigs along with the arable operation growing wheat, barley, potatoes and mangolds. The feed for the animals was made with ground cereals which were milled using giant millstones one of which is still on display at the farm today.
Having expanded the number of pigs through the 1950’s my grandfather started building a new range of farm buildings at the top of Philips Lane. In 1967 the first modern sheds were built alongside some old existing stone buildings at Top House Farm as it was known then. Today the original stone buildings form the house and outbuildings at Church Laithe. The first modern buildings
from 1967 still stand today and can be seen still in use opposite the farm car park at the top of Philips Lane.
Alastair Wilson took the farm over from his father and was instrumental in operating the business through the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. My uncle expanded the pig unit further through the decades but always maintained a sustainable livestock business. Church Farm has always grown and produced its own pig feed requirements on farm and still does today keeping its carbon footprint low. The pigs
manure is then put back on the land growing the crops to reduce the requirement for artificial fertilisers. This sustainable cycle of production has been core to the success of the farming business since the 1930’s and remains its priority today in 2021.
I took over running the business in 2000 and since the last expansion of the livestock unit in 2006 much of the focus has been on energy production and use. Today much of the electrical power used on the farm is produced by solar panels with biomass heating replacing electrical heat requirements. Some of the pig manure also feeds an Anaerobic digestion plant that produces enough electricity to power a 1000 homes. As well as the wheat and barley required to feed the livestock, the farm also grows 14000 tonnes of potatoes every year. The majority of these are made into chips or fries for McDonald’s restaurants with some of the others going to make Walkers crisps.
The pork produced at our farm in Darrington ends up in many of the well-known supermarket retailers as well as some of the local butchers. Today the UK is only 50% self sufficient in pork meaning a lot is imported from various parts of the world from farms that would not meet the UK’s stringent industry standards. These standards are monitored and inspected regularly at Church
Farm, Darrington by the various Farm Assurance and regulatory bodies. The farm also holds an Environmental Permit meaning we work closely with, and are inspected regularly by, the Environment Agency to help monitor and minimise our impact. As part of this we continue to invest time and money into improving management systems and techniques that aim to reduce our odour and noise emissions.
Today the farm employs upward of 10 local people with as many as 20 employed at the seasonally busy planting and harvesting times. Through the years many agricultural and veterinary students have also gained their relevant experience at Church farm, Darrington. My grandfather especially loved village life and was an instrumental member of the Parish Council and Church during his 50 years in Darrington. We’ve continued this connection over the years helping with Feast & Fayres, Bonfires, village projects, School projects and Church projects.
Today Kate and I remain focused on running a business that operates at one with the village and not against it. We too are residents with our children, Megan and Reuben, at the local schools and friends in and around the village. R Wilson & Son has been farming in Darrington for nearly 100 years, it would be nice to think we can continue to do so for a 100 more!
We are always contactable and approachable!! Please email us at email@example.com.